Of particular note are the dozens of mostly optional naval missions. There's something extremely satisfying about how easy it is to captain Connor's own ship, the Aquila, as you hunt down British fleets or privateers. The missions in storms are just exhilarating, huge waves crashing over the rails as you frantically steer to loose broadside cannon fire on your pursuers. As with all the missions, you can replay them to fulfill secondary objectives like taking less damage or sinking enemies using specific tactics like ramming; the missions are so fun and bite-sized enough that it's a joy to try them several times back-to-back to try to fulfill each special condition.
Truth be told, sneaking around to assassinate a target on land can be tedious at times, but usually these objectives aren't tied to the completion of the mission. Stealth is typically a secondary objective, which means you can fight your way to beat the missions if you don't feel like sneaking. Sometimes though, just being seen by a guard will force you to restart the mission. In those few cases, get ready for some repetitive trial-and-error because Connor's usual loping stride will make him pretty dang noticeable. Then again, perhaps the effort to remain stealthy is exactly what makes a successful assassination so satisfying. Just be aware that you won't be able to run through every mission.
Fighting Redcoats or Patriots - yes, Connor is an equal opportunity protagonist who attacks both sides, if warranted - can feel a bit simple at times, but the animations are smooth. There's a huge variety of movements Connor can take in battle from slashing with a cavalry sword or inserting a hidden blade in the soft skin of an opponent's neck. Reloading firearms takes too long to rely upon within battle, but it's incredibly fun to snatch up a musket from a fallen foe, and get off a shot at a charging Redcoat before dropping the unwieldy weapon and dashing into the shadows.
The multiplayer keeps with the engaging cat-and-mouse gameplay from Brotherhood in which your avatar looks like townsfolk NPCs and your human opponents have to figure out who is an assassin and who is just another Native American strolling down the lane. It's really fun to try to blend your movements in with the crowd so you're harder to detect, but over the course of a ten minute match, you'll start to recognize your opponent's costume and know when he or she is tailing you. There's even a neat little story you can unlock in the multiplayer that expands on the Order of Assassins' struggles against Abstergo Industries and the Templars who control it.
Bottom Line: Assassin's Creed III lets you jump into an intriguing point in history, and it succeeds on nearly every level with nimble combat, fun diversions and the chance to captain your own ship. Connor might not be an altogether likeable hero, but the New World he's fighting to protect is one you won't forget.
Recommendation: Grab it as soon as you can. For how much quality gameplay it offers, Assassin's Creed III feels like four independently excellent games rolled into one.
This review is based on the Xbox 360 version of the game.